The difference between political power and any other kind of social “power,”
between a government and any private organization, is the fact that a
government holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force. This
distinction is so important and so seldom recognized today that I must urge you
to keep it in mind. Let me repeat it: a government holds a legal monopoly on
the use of physical force.
No individual or private group or private organization has the legal power to
initiate the use of physical force against other individuals or groups and to
compel them to act against their own voluntary choice. Only a government holds
that power. The nature of governmental action is: *coercive *action. The nature
of political power is: the power to force obedience under threat of physical
injury—the threat of property expropriation, imprisonment, or death.